In Pandiscio’s long, expertly detailed international thriller, U.S. military and intelligence operatives race against time to stop terrorists from taking over America.
Capt. Vinnie Pagano, a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, has come home from active duty and taken a civilian job at Global Insurance—a job that holds few attractions for the hard-hitting thrill-seeker. When he sees a “help wanted” ad from Iverson & Hunt Investigations for a private investigator, he jumps at the chance. In the military, Pagano led teams in doing extraction work, “where only the brave and well trained survived,” and Gretchen Iverson—“a classic professional, groomed to display but a hint of her sexuality”—instantly appreciates his action-hero qualities. She seeks his assistance in rescuing a highly valuable CIA operative named Max Rietsema and killing an al-Qaida mastermind named Abdu Khalid. Rolling at a leisurely pace and filled with ample exposition, the narrative unfolds in a dozen locations around the world. Pandiscio makes the smart decision to show Khalid not as a ranting villain but a charismatic, passionate character: “I ask you, where is it written that all sovereign nations must have democratic governments? Who made the United States the arbiter of governmental form around the world?” He often comes close to stealing the story from Pagano and Iverson, the book’s all-American stars. Fortunately, Pandiscio efficiently conveys the complicated, multilayered plot and counterplots, using frequent setting changes, plenty of action, a few steamy sex scenes and ample amounts of lightly disguised political opining, especially on the venality and general cluelessness of many elected officials in the U.S. and abroad. In the process of being entertained, readers will learn a great deal. Dialogue is pointed though sometimes stiff, and the text on the whole is in need of a strong edit, which would address errors, including the one found in the book’s title. Nonetheless, all the elements are in place to please fans of Dale Brown and Tom Clancy.
Muscular, readable and well-researched.